The Roadster, essentially a rebodied, battery-powered Lotus Elise, was Tesla’s historic first vehicle.

This example is a desirable later 2.5 model that has been freshly serviced by a Tesla Roadster expert.

Bidding is open until April 17.

When discussing what makes a car a suitable long-term collector vehicle, the question of what to do when the petrol stations close inevitably arises. With this innovative electric sports car, there is no need for petrol. Today’s featured vehicle on the Bring A Trailer auction site, which, like Car and Driver, is owned by Hearst Autos, is a 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport, arguably the Shelby Cobra of this century.


Before the Shelby purists bring out their pitchforks and torches, let’s examine this comparison. Similar to the original Cobra, the Tesla Roadster combines a British-built chassis with an upgraded powertrain to produce a ferociously fast speed demon. In the case of the Tesla, it’s volts rather than V-8s (and Lotus Elise underpinnings rather than AC), but the fundamentals of SoCal hot-rodding are present. Engineers removed the first prototype Roadsters from the shed where they were assembled and went in search of Corvettes. You must conclude that Carroll Shelby would have approved of such conduct.

From that point on, the comparison weakens somewhat. The Cobra went on to create a name for itself on the racecourse, whereas the Roadster was the first salvo fired by a company with the intention of mass-producing consumer electric vehicles. However, one could argue that the leaders of both companies have a similar talent for self-promotion, and both have left an indelible mark on the auto industry.

Return to the car. As a 2011 2.5 model, this Roadster features numerous improvements over the original. In addition to a redesign of the exterior, these upgrades included improvements to the air conditioning, additional soundproofing, and modifications to the powertrain to better manage hot weather.

In addition, this item has been handled by the Gruber Motor Company of Phoenix, Arizona. Tesla appears to have little interest in preserving the Roadster’s legacy, as one was launched into outer space for internet points. Fortunately, this apparent neglect makes room for respected specialists such as Gruber to move in.

On a list of approximately 50 components, level two service from Gruber involves addressing various engineering issues and replacing wear items. In terms of combustion engines, it is comparable to a complete engine dismantling and rebuild. The work was completed in May of last year, so the next proprietor of this Roadster will likely enjoy a superior driving experience.

Although you can now purchase a faster vehicle directly from Tesla, the Roadster Sport’s acceleration to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds is still impressive. The 53 kWh battery pack provides approximately 200 miles of range, and the motor delivers 288 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.

This Roadster is a fun, quick convertible that is future-proofed against a world where everything operates on electricity. Possibly more significant is the fact that it is not merely a trinket, but rather a piece of automotive history. At your local cars-and-coffee event, it will receive praise from a wide spectrum of enthusiasts, from Gen Z to maybe a couple of older individuals in Shelby T-shirts.

Brendan McAleer is a freelance photographer and writer based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was raised on British automobiles, came of age during the golden period of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about automobiles and people in 2008. His particular interest lies in the intersection of humanity and technology, be it Walter Cronkite’s racing career or Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century fascination with the Citron 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to transfer a manual transmission and is thankful that they provide him with an excuse to purchase Hot Wheels incessantly.